Kids have a lot of energy and it can often be difficult to know how to channel those hyper moments into healthy activities. I often take my five-year-old daughter to a family-friendly yoga class ad she adores it. Best of all, its a great way to help her become more centered with herself and to get some exercise at the same time.
Doing yoga with kids can be a challenge, but it can also be quite enjoyable if it is done with your child’s interests in mind. The most important factor is making it fun and not too slow-paced. Kids naturally have shorter attention spans so keep the practice quick and easy. If children are forced to do one activity for an extended period of time, it becomes very frustrating and can lead to crankiness.
Yoga can have a number of benefits for younger children, including lengthening attention span, stretching the body, and understanding the power of breath. The best part is that children are naturally flexible, so they often excel at the activity. Yoga is also very non-judgemental and helps kids feel good about themselves, especially if they aren’t great at other sports.
One of the biggest challenges is helping them understand the movements. Kids have a hard time imitating yoga stretches with long and difficult names, and oftentimes, they can’t tell their right foot from their left. A good trick is to put two different stickers on each foot to remind the child which is which.
Before you get into a routine, it’s essential to get your child to focus. Help them get all the sillies out by dancing, jumping, or even jogging around the room. Once that is complete, start with Child’s Pose. It will center and focus the kid into a little yogi. A fun way to move out of this first pose and begin the series of exercises is to move into Tree (Vriksasana). I always get my daughter to wiggle her toes, move her arms, and slowly begin to grow into a large tree that stretches nice and high. This is a good stretch to prepare for more difficult moves, and helps to center a child so they can practice yoga more effectively.
Making the yoga practice a storytime opportunity will help keep your child attentive. Turn the different exercises into a journey involving a mermaid traveling through a sea or another animal going on a journey.
Many yoga positions are named after animals, so it is fairly easy to create a routine that is kid-friendly. Cat and Cow are common yoga positions as well as Downward Facing Dog. It is nice to end the yoga practice with Butterfly, which is a calmer sitting pose. Have your child put their toes together and hold their ankles for a nice stretch. If your child hasn’t lost interest by this point, try adding a short meditation.
Doing yoga with my daughter is a great way for us to spend time together and do something that inspires a healthy attitude. It is a good nighttime activity because it helps to calm her before bedtime. It is also fun to create new and hip ways to bond with your child.
Have you done yoga with your kids? What are your tips? Post in the comments below.